Several years ago, I realized the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, AL had become a symbol in the sacred narrative of progressive liberalism. It had become a secular shrine in the cult of antiracism. Pilgrims from all over the world come to Selma to walk in the footsteps of civil rights martyrs like John Lewis. Politicians like Joe Biden flock there because the bridge possesses symbolic power.
The Alabama Black Belt is my home. I’ve walk across that bridge and explored Selma many times. I have thought about the meaning of the bridge and what it symbolizes to people. It symbolizes a great moral triumph in the cause of antiracism in which the forces of good prevailed over the forces of evil. This is literally what the bridge means to these people. They associate the bridge with antiracism and thus with progress. I’ve watched these people IRL come to Selma and walk across the bridge as a performative act of moral self righteousness. I have talked to them and asked them what they felt about it.
In light of what I wrote this morning about generational archetypes in Turning Points, I now realize that I was dealing with Prophets. They are a generation who grew up as the “increasingly indulged children of this post-Crisis era, come of age as self-absorbed young crusaders of an Awakening, focus on morals and principles in midlife, and emerge as elders guiding another Crisis.” Selma and the Civil Rights Movement and John Lewis marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge was a big deal in the lives of the Baby Boomer generation. The late 1960s was the summer of their idealistic youth in which they discovered the moral and political beliefs that have guided them through their entire adult lives.
This has not been my life experience. These are not my beliefs. I was born somewhat later in 1980 and my life has been the Unraveling or the thirty years of perpetual cultural war between the Boomers. Selma and the Edmund Pettus Bridge doesn’t represent moral progress to me. On the contrary, it represents a place that has become one of the poorest cities in the United States. It is the very embodiment of American civic decline and the futility of the folly that is antiracism. Do any of these people who come to Selma stay for a while, look around town and ponder the consequences of what John Lewis wrought?
In his last posthumous performance, the casket John Lewis was hauled across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma this afternoon for the last time over a bed of rose petals in what can only be described as the moment we hit Peak Boomer in American history. He won’t be coming back to reenact the annual sacred march next year by which time the bridge will undoubtedly be renamed after him.
Here is the Foreword that I wrote to Paul Kersey’s book The Truth About Selma: What Happened When The Cameras Left and Marching Stopped:
Growing up in the Alabama Black Belt, Selma was always for me a nagging reminder that something had gone deeply wrong in this country. The Alt-Right likes to talk about being red-pilled and blue-pilled. Selma was, so to speak, a flaw in The Matrix. It’s present day condition naturally arouses your curiosity.
On the one hand, there is the Selma of Hollywood movies, a place where good triumphed over evil in the simple narrative of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement, a symbol of equality and justice to the world at large which annually attracts tourists, politicians and celebrities who are fond of linking arms and walking in triumph across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. On the other hand, there is the 21st century Selma that is better known to locals as a struggling dystopian city with massive problems that appears to have suffered some kind of natural disaster that has arrested all economic progress.
The majestic ruins of Selma are beautiful in the same way that Pompeii is beautiful. Old Live Oak Cemetery, Sturdivant Hall, Temple Mishkan Israel, and the St. James Hotel stand as monuments of a more prosperous time when Selma was still the “Queen City of the Black Belt.” An outsider can’t tour Selma in the 21st century and not come away with the impression that the Queen City has become a mausoleum. What’s magnificent there is being preserved while the rest of the city is visibly rotting to its foundations.
Last year, almost 100,000 tourists descended on Selma to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. President Barack Obama landed in his helicopter in the post-apocalyptic ruins of Craig Air Force. His limousine drove past the blighted homes that once served as base housing for the families of Cold War pilots. The Washington Post noted at the time that the black residents who live there now were seen scouring a dumpster for aluminum cans and that one of them had apparently gutted and feasted on the remains of a raccoon whose carcass laid nearby. Elsewhere in Selma, the home of Amelia Boynton Robinson, where Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote the first draft of the Voting Rights Act, still stands as a blighted, boarded up wreck.
The dirty little secret of Selma is that it has quietly become a national disgrace.
This isn’t to say there hasn’t been “progress.” In Selma and Dallas County, AL, the Voting Rights Act was largely successful in accomplishing its goal of black political empowerment. Selma now has a black mayor, a black majority city council, a black district attorney, a black police chief, a majority black police force, a black school superintendent, 99 percent black public schools, a black US representative, a black state senator, a black state representative, all of whom live under the executive authority of a black US president and a black US attorney general. It’s just that in the words of a frustrated, red-pilled Selma resident named Arsenio Gardner, “All this city got is history. If this bridge wasn’t here, it would just be another f—-d-up place nobody would visit.”
In 1965, Selma ceased to be an American city. It became something else entirely – a symbol of a movement, a photo op in a sacred narrative, a holy place with a magic bridge stained by the blood of martyrs that bestows virtue on anyone who walks over it. In the budding secular religion of Social Justice Warriors (SJWs), Selma has become a kind of Medieval shrine that attracts pilgrims who travel there as an act of penance. They pray and ask for forgiveness for the modern day sins of racism and white privilege.
But there are two sides to every story. In The Truth About Selma: What Happened When The Cameras Left and Marching Stopped, Paul Kersey of SBPDL.com will take you on a journey through Selma’s history from Bloody Sunday to Barack Obama. ThinkProgress hinted that there was “The Dark Side Of Selma The Mainstream Media Ignored.” In this book, you will discover that “The Dark Side of Selma” is a city that is now completely dominated by black political power and which is a warning from history of the collective fears the architects of Jim Crow long held for their posterity.
What has the Voting Rights Act wrought in Selma?
- In 2015, Selma City Schools are 97 percent black. The Alabama Department of Education’s Board of Education voted unanimously to take over Selma City Schools in the aftermath of a scathing state investigation.
- In 2015, fifty years after the Voting Rights Act was passed, Selma has lost a third of its population, around 10,000 White people.
- In 2015, 42 percent of the population of Selma lives in poverty, which is twice the state average in Alabama.
- In 2015, Selma is the fourth most dangerous city in Alabama with the third highest number of murders per capita and the fourth highest number of property crimes.
- In 2015, Selma is struggling with code enforcement on numerous blighted, abandoned homes.
- In 2015, Selma is one of the worst cities in which to do business in Alabama.
- In 2015, Selma is an epicenter of new HIV infections in rural Alabama. The HIV infection rate in Dallas County is 106.8 percent above the national average.
The real Selma, not the Hollywood fairytale, is plagued by extreme poverty, STDs, high crime, terrible schools, a terrible business climate, high unemployment, low property value, blighted housing, shuttered businesses, potholes and litter, low civic engagement and perpetual racial strife stirred up by activists like Faya Rose Toure. It’s a place where black gang members armed with AK-47s, MAC-10s and 40-caliber handguns with high-volume clips descended into open warfare in the wake of President Obama’s visit. Look at the brightside: it has streets named after civil rights leaders.
Rep. John Lewis reminisced, “Fifty years ago, this place was the center of commerce, it was booming. You came here on a Friday afternoon or early evening, on a Saturday to shop from the rural areas or the small towns.” In the words of former Selma City Councilman Jim Durry, Selma has since become “too black” to be prosperous and needs a change in government. Go to that same downtown on a Friday night or Saturday afternoon in 2016 and it looks like Selma has been hit by a Soviet EMP weapon.
Fifty years ago, America’s liberals envisioned a generation of African-American Euclids and Einsteins – inspired by the events of Bloody Sunday – emerging from Selma’s public schools. When I last walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge with Paul Kersey, all we saw was graffiti, tall weeds and a discarded used condom.
Enjoy this book. It is a red pill you won’t soon forget.